The Guardian’s anti-Scottish journalist

I read the Guardian every weekend and find it one of the least offensive, most unbiased newspapers around. I enjoy reading the articles and now and again some of the journalist-commentators are quite interesting to read. However this weekend I was appalled at the lack of professionalism and sheer irreverence directed at myself and all Scottish people from Simon Hoggart.

He was writing about the fact that a percentage of Scottish football supporters do not support England and are quite vocal about that fact, to the point that they will support their opposition. Instead of trying to be factual he launches at the entire Scottish nation with some views more suited to the old English Empire.

First, here’s what he said…

You have to pity England-hating Scots who brought Trinidad & Tobago shirts. I hope they will now give them to Oxfam, so they can be worn by football-mad youngsters in African villages. I feel quite sorry for these Scots who detest England so much. It’s a terrible waste of time and emotional effort.

And the worst thing is that the hatred isn’t reciprocated. There can be nothing more galling than to loathe someone who in return regards you with benign tolerance – when they think about you at all, that is…

…Does anyone south of the border give a monkey’s cuss that the Scottish first minister supported Paraguay last week?

The problem is the same for many countries like Scotland that punch above their weight in the world but are dominated by a much larger neighbour – a neighbour which, for the most part, blithely ignores them…

…All this Scottish rage at the country which has 85% of the UK’s population is inevitable. It’s another reason why some of us fervently believe in Scottish independence – they would be so much happier without us.

Now my first thought was sheer surprise at the amount of arrogant and superior comments made in that opening paragraph, I loomed over it wondering if this was in fact a joke. How many people and countries had he tried to insult and belittle in this paragraph.

My second thought was the highly inaccurate paragraph claiming that “the hatred isn’t reciprocated”. Well, putting aside the violent and racist tendencies of a minority of the English football fans, I wonder what nation-wide survey gave him this conclusion? I myself have seen this hatred both in and out of football. A recent story highlighted on a blog of a friend goes to show this narrow-minded aloofness is alive and well.

From On the Beat comes this very enlightening story:

English companies are cancelling conferences in Scotland because Jack McConnell is supporting Trinidad & Tobago instead of England…

…Clearly, these guys wouldn’t dream of going to Paris (what – they support France?) or Madrid, or – well just about anywhere else.

The story links to the article from The Scotsman (it’s a newspaper for you non-Scottish people). In the article it shows the First Minister’s comments.

“Scotland, my team, is not there, so that’s disappointing. There are people who think that, as First Minister, I should be supporting England instead, but football is not about politics so I will not be…

…Asked who that might be, he said: “There are many teams in the World Cup who have got Scottish-based players playing for them – Trinidad and Angola, other teams too. I will be watching their games with interest.”

How exactly is that anti-English? I think he’s perfectly right to say that he won’t bring politics into the World Cup. Like many other Scottish fans he’ll be supporting teams with links to Scotland, and in Trinidad and Tobago they have Jason Scotland.

I shan’t even attack the story for the fact that Hoggart wrote First Minister using small letters, is it prime minister Tony Blair?

The comment about “punching above their weight” made me smile as this is something we clearly do not do. I never hear the Scottish players, pundits or fans claiming this year we can go all the way and looking back to a previous win over forty years in the past. This is indeed what those English journalists continue to do every time the English team prepare themselves to kick a football.

As soon as the England team are ready to go to play football the journalists create an unbelievable hype, putting untold pressure on the team rather than supporting and encouraging them. Then, when at some point the team fail to secure the World Cup, they immediately turn on the first person they can blame, either the Manager, the Captain, or whoever was responsible for some mistake during the last game. From my limited knowledge of the English language and football, this doesn’t really constitute the explanation of the word support. I don’t see this happening with the Scottish team and their supporters.

I’d also like to point out to Hoggart that Scottish people do support the English team. When Scotland aren’t around then I’m happy to support the team and the players, not however the hype of the English press behind them. My brother goes much further than me, he actually supports England consistently, despite working for a Scottish football club and supporting them.

It’s easy to attack the Scottish football squad, but it’s not so easy to show the same strength of support, encouragement, belief and all in an extremely good natured way. It’s also not so easy to stand on a pedestal and belittle an entire country, singling them out from the rest of the World Cup nations.

Something struck me when I read this article, something that falls into a term of racial incitement. Perhaps not so obvious when you read it with England and Scotland in the title, but consider this extract for a moment.

You have to pity Indian-hating Pakistani’s who brought England shirts. I hope they will now give them to Oxfam, so they can be worn by football-mad youngsters in African villages. I feel quite sorry for these Pakistani’s who detest India so much. It’s a terrible waste of time and emotional effort.

And the worst thing is that the hatred isn’t reciprocated. There can be nothing more galling than to loathe someone who in return regards you with benign tolerance – when they think about you at all, that is…

…Does anyone on the other side of the border give a monkey’s cuss that the Pakistani first minister supported England last week?

The problem is the same for many countries like Pakistan that punch above their weight in the world but are dominated by a much larger neighbour – a neighbour which, for the most part, blithely ignores them…

I wonder what effect that story would have had if Hoggart had written it, indeed would it even had made the printing press?

For me this is just another example of the rage projected against Scotland by a minority of English people, particularly journalists. Would we see this hatred extended to other countries and races that do not support England? Do we see it as close to home as the Welsh and Irish? How about Canada, Australia, or former countries of the Empire such as India and Africa?

Hoggart’s article highlights the exact problem, and it’s not with the Scottish football supporters, the Scottish Nation or our First Minister.

6 comments on “The Guardian’s anti-Scottish journalist”

  1. Gareth Andrew Reply

    Umm. You said

    “I loomed over it wondering if this was in fact a joke”

    and then obviously wrongly concluded it wasn’t a joke. Simon Hoggart is the Guardian’s resident satirist and sketch writer and I don’t think I’ve ever read a serious word of his in my life.

    The article was very neatly satirising the English jingoism and vitriol which you are right to despise.

  2. Richard Reply

    I know exactly who Hoggart is, but reading this there seems to be anything but “satirising the English jingoism and vitriol”. If that were the case would his sharpened wit not be pointed upon the English?

    I just don’t see how the article can be interpreted that way.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    “My second thought was the highly inaccurate paragraph claiming that “the hatred isn’t reciprocated”. Well, putting aside the violent and racist tendencies of a minority of the English football fans, I wonder what nation-wide survey gave him this conclusion?”

    i find this to be statement to be generalised and grossly inaccurate. firstly i can see that you’ve been extensive in your research by actually finding out whether english people actually do hate the scots and i think you’ll find they don’t. perhaps a minority, as you rightly pointed out, of people would attack the scots at a football match but they hardly are selective, the few idiots that do it attack ever opposing side. and i would also like to point out that hooliganism is dropping. i, like you, could judge the feelings of your country people on isolated incidents such as a 7 year old boy being beaten up by a grown man for wearing an england shirt or a disabled man being dragged from his car for flying english flags. i COULD judge the scots on that. but i dont. because its two incidents, just like this journalist is one man. please do not judge us all on one thing.

  4. Richard Brunton Reply

    Just to clear something up I wasn’t referring to the English football fans violence towards Scottish fans, that’s probably next to non-existance, it was the general violence of a minority of English fans.

    The statement also quite clearly says “minority” of English football fans, that’s not a generalised statement.

    With a year that has produced a record number of fans being banned from travelling to matches I think it’s fair to say that this is far from comparable with the single instances you’ve mentioned there, however terrible they are.

  5. pablo Reply

    This is a vey touchy subject and i applaud you at even attempting to have a adult converstation about it on the net. We only know how the net can be filled with people who just can’t hope to discuss things without flaming and insulting everybody who has an opinion.

    1. There will always be a small minority of people who will spoil it for everyone. We should never let them taint our views(note: i don’t think your initial post is doing that)

    2. Rivally is excellent for sport, violence and racisim has no place.

    3. People who have the ability to reach a large audience should remember that having “freedom of the press” doesn’t mean you can write whatever you like and not worry about the consequences.

    4. Personal experiences and human nature will always blind our vision on what was said and more importantly what was implied.

    With that in hand, i think that Simon Hoggart has every right to have an article published that shows his displeasure in what he perceives as the scots not supporting the english, blah blah, but he should realise he may be taken well out of context and incite uneccessary violence. You may argue the same about Mr McConnell, however he does not specifically name call and generalise.

    I have both english and scottish heritage and am very proud of where my family orginated from. I do however cringe everytime there are travelling english football supporters or the world cup is upon us.

    How come the english rugby/cricket/swimming/rowing/darts/snooker etc fans are world over known for their atmosphere and the footabll fans are not? Perhaps its the same for the scottish football fans?

    At the end of the day (in maybe a to ideal world) would like to see people respecting one another a little bit more. Its very easy to hate, but much more difficult to turn the other cheek.

  6. Richard Brunton Reply

    Excellent comments Pablo, and you know me, I love controversial topics – political correctness may be next, and I was tempted by a certain discussion of headwear in the British press.

    I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s about respect of others, and nowadays that’s missing so much from our lives.

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